Slide Lake is one of my favorite day hikes that anyone in moderate physical fitness can do. It has some unique features along the trail (a giant waterslide and Fishbowl Springs) and decent views the entire way.
Note: Peggy would like you to know that the footbridge is GONE. It was swept a ways downstream.
Table of Contents
➻ Quick Facts
Info at a Glance
- Time of Year: Various times from late June to fall. Pictures are from 7/16 (cloudy with mom) and 6/25 (sunny with Adiosa).
- Notable Features: Green River, Green River Lakes, Clear Creek, Squaretop Mountain, Slide Creek Falls, Slide Lake.
- Total Miles: ~11-13
- Elevation Gain/Loss: +/-3000′
- Elevation Min, Avg, Max: 7966, 8530, 9535
- General Route: Green River Lakes Trailhead, Continental Divide Highline Trail 094, Creal Creek Trail 184, Slide Lake Trail 147, return.
- GPS Track: Can be downloaded for use in phone/GPS/Google Earth with a free Gaia account.
- Images: I deliver pictures via a CDN at low quality to save speed and increase speed. Feel free to contact me if you’d like better images.
Interactive Map (Click or Tap)
Elevation Profile (Click or Tap)
My friends Adiosa Peruana and Payday Malone both wanted to hike with me, as did my dear mother. Raven-haired Adiosa lived in the same city as me, while Payday lived in the same city as my mom, so Adiosa and I decided that we’d carpool together to the Green River Lakes trailhead and carpool back, too. On my day off after the hike, Adiosa and I spent time together riding the alpine roller coaster at Snow King and generally enjoying hanging out. It was still early enough in the season that the short weekend was best spent lower in the mountains, so this worked quite well for everyone.
Since I’ve done this hike a billion times, I’ll include pictures from various different occasions, but will label the ones from this trip specifically. That will allow you to get a better feel for how it looks at various times of year.
⤑Day Hike to Slide Lake
Adiosa and Payday had never really done much hiking, so I was prepared for them to not like this relatively short tromp through the woods. I always have to remind myself that I’m in much better shape than I look, and that the first time I did a 10-mile hike I was a sedentary sack of human garbage and felt like I might never walk again at the end. (Despite having done cross-country in high school.)
The day was hot and cloudless as we got underway. GRL trailhead is lower than many others in the range, so it tends to be a bit warmer. We walked down to the bridge across the outlet and made our way to the trail-split, which is hard to see anymore. It used to be well marked, but at some point the sign for the upper, prettier trail fell down, and the USFS seems to have abandoned maintenance of it. Still, it offers a more consistent track in regard to elevation, and also has better views, including a nice scene with some aspens and Squaretop. For that reason, I prefer to take it. It does add a little bit of distance if you’re going to Upper Green River Lake, but is shorter if you’re going toward Slide Lake.
- The upper trail. (Hidden these days.)
Adiosa and Payday both seemed to like that section of the trip, though when we stopped to look at the waterfalls and Clear Creek Park, Adiosa was already asking how much farther it was. Good news, Adiosa! It’s just around the next bend. 😉 There is a trail that connects the Clear Creek area to the Green River Lakes area in case you’d ever like to utilize it.
Clear Creek Park is beautiful, verdant, and has a set of cascades at its terminus, above which are slow, deep S bends in the river as it meanders through a lush meadow. The scene is somewhat tainted by the presence of standing-dead trees from old fires, but if one faces toward Slide Lake, it’s a green-lover’s dream.
- Clear Creek Park.
Just under a mile beyond the cascades we came to the sturdy bridge. It only has a railing on one side, which I think makes it a bit more fun! After the bridge, we crossed the meadow (where my mother once hooked herself, and made me get it out with pliers—she’s pretty fond of hooking herself, historically) and made our way to Slide Creek, which itself has a fairly easy crossing, though no bridge. From the crossing, numerous switchbacks soon begin, and we took them, stopping for a long time a couple of times not at all because Adiosa and Payday were tired, but rather only to check out Slide Creek Falls, which would absolutely kill you if you fell into it. It’s effectively a euthanasia slide over solid granite.
Warning! Cringe picture.
- Don’t wanna slide down that puppy!
800 vertical feet above the crossing, the trail levels out, and there one has nice views of the Slide Creek Meadows. The creek meanders peacefully, not yet aware of the terrifying plunge it is about to take, and provides a nice habitat for deer and moose. To the south, the grassy, tree-free side of White Rock rises into a long ridge, which goes past the entirety of the lake. I plan on climbing White Rock one day. From the other side, especially as seen from Dale Lake, the mountain looks vastly different.
- Approaching the meadows, passing my Fishbowl Springs. Later in the year, the area becomes more yellow.
Fishbowl Springs is located at the far end of the meadow, in a thick stand of trees just prior to going uphill. It’s a natural, fast-flowing, turquoise spring that has an animal you’d never expect living in it.
Adiosa and Payday were dismayed and disgruntled to have to start the climb from Fishbowl, but that’s life, champs! Unlike the 800-foot ascent from park-to-park, the climb to Slide Lake from Fishbowl is less than half as much and doesn’t feature a set of switchbacks. There was much kvetching about how far it was as we climbed, and I felt bad for a brief second, but that turned out to only be a rock in my shoe.
There was some celebration upon reaching the bank of Slide Lake, which is framed to the SE by Lost Eagle Peak. I’ve found outfitters here a few times, and the heavy-wear camping areas belie just how often they visit. Fishing is better on the western shores, which provide more room to maneuver than the eastern side, which is rather cliffy.
- No matter the weather, we always catch plenty of fish at Slide Lake!
The logjam at the outlet was still intact, much the same as the other times that I’d visited it, so we all carefully made our way across and then walked through the forest for a bit and fished. There are camping spots over there if you’d wish, and they’re much more secluded, though don’t expect trees on the ground to use for sitting, as you’d get at a campsite put together by outfitters.
We fished for a while and then made our way back to the logjam, as we all had to work and I knew that my friends would be pretty slow going out, just as they were coming in. On the way down, I kept telling Payday to drink and he kept refusing, saying he wasn’t thirsty. I think he was trying to show off for Adiosa, and he ended up feeling sick and being dehydrated and overheated.
- Green vs Yellow!
We arrived back at the trailhead during a very golden sunset, and I think that Adiosa, at least, was pretty happy about it, though she objected to me calling it an easy hike.
- The difference between the hikes again.
➤Conclusion and Rating
Slide Lake gives you a true, mountain experience for a day hike, with incredible waterfalls, beautiful fields, and decent fishing for brook trout. Most lakes in the winds take quite a long approach to reach, but Slide is mostly flat with only two significant uphill areas. The trail is incredibly well maintained, though I have never seen more than 4 people at the lake itself. If you want to do a long day hike, it’s a suitable candidate, though it is probably best as an overnighter, given that it’s quite beautiful and pushing the limits of what many people want to do in one day if they also want to fish and take in the scenery.
- My scientific rating system. I always truly enjoy hiking to Slide Lake.
- Beauty. Although day hikes tend to not offer the most beauty, this hike has soaring mountains, glistening streams, roaring waterfalls, and beautiful lakes.
- Camping spots. The good camping spots at the lake may be taken, but not too many people go to Slide Lake for overnight hikes, so crossing the outlet will net you your pick of the litter.
- Crowds. Slide Lake is relatively popular for the Winds, but much less crowded than Titcomb or Big Sandy.
- Difficulty. Two moderate sections. For an advanced hiker, it’s a piece of cake. For the casual hiker, this may leave your legs sore if done as a day’s adventure.
- Fishing. Plenty!
- History. Nah.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’m here to serve you!